by Matt Seaver
Pay very careful attention to the first half hour of “Snakes on a Plane.” If you don’t, you won’t be able to remember what happened come the end of the first hour. The plot is completely transparent, with only one purpose – to get Sam Jackson and a whole bunch of poisonous snakes onto the same plane. And it works, just like the rest of this ridiculous, always hilarious gore-fest.All the hype that’s been piled upon this film really doesn’t seem fair, because the film doesn’t seem to have ever had lofty aspirations. It’s not complex, it’s not inspired, it’s not trying to say anything particularly profound. This is the product of someone saying, “Wouldn’t it be scary/weird/awful/funny as hell if someone put a whole bunch of snakes on a plane, and the passengers had to try to deal with them?” And if this is the best scenario they could come up with the fit that mold, I’m certainly not going to hold it against them.
"If you've loved the title, you'll love the movie. Just not for everyone."
And New Line seems to have stumbled upon the most amusing – though apparently not most effective – marketing campaign possible: let Sam Jackson play in a film, and then unleash him onto the talk show circuit in all his giddiness. I swear, Sam on the Daily Show, with both him and Jon Stewart giggling every 15 seconds, is one of the most entertaining interviews I’ve ever seen.
Sam plays Nelville Flynn, an FBI agent investigating an LA mobster named Eddie Kim (Byron Lawson). In Hawaii, he’s finally found what he needs – an eyewitness to Kim’s murderous crimes – in the form of Sean Jones (Nathan Phillips), an X-sport enthusiast who stumbled upon the crime scene. Flynn, his partner and Jones commandeer the first class section of South Pacific Air flight 121, much to the anger of some of the other passengers on the flight. But it’s all soon equaled out when a series of events leads to hundreds of poisonous snakes, hidden in the cargo hold by Kim’s men, find their way into the cabin and cockpit of the plane. After the snakes off the pilot and the majority of the passengers right away, the remaining passengers and crew must find a way to stay alive and land the plane using only what’s available to them 35,000 feet in the air.
It’s just so silly you have to enjoy it. Again, the complexities are very limited. Beyond Flynn, who fits the “Samuel L. Jackson” type perfectly, all of the passengers are restricted to specific but necessary types. There’s the ditzy rich girl, the celebrity, the helpless kids, the unexpected hero(es), the complete asshat (foreign asshat, no less!), the sexually explicit snake fodder… they’re all here. And they all play their roles as well as they need to, making sure not to get in the way of the two draws of the film – ridiculous snake-induced deaths and Jackson chewing scenery.
And chew it he does. When I saw the film late on opening night, there was little Sam could do that WOULDN’T be met with cheers from the crowd. It was just instantly apparent that Sam Jackson was having a damn good time with this one, and that we should too. This is no real deviation from any other part Sam’s ever had, and certainly not a challenge. If anything, it’s a vacation to do something completely silly, and that’s exactly what the film is for viewers, as well.
Director David Ellis is one of those guys in Hollywood that you know you can count on to do some sick, twisted stuff – this is the guy who gave us Final Destination 2, so when it comes to brutality in American cinema, he runs in the same league as the guys who make the Saw films. It might not be realistic, but he can make you squirm. Much of what made these scenes fun wouldn’t have been possible without the R rating, so thank Gibson they upped the rating, even if the reshoots do look hastily done and awkwardly added. Even still, Ellis pulls them off pretty well, and clearly delivers what the internet geeks (myself included) were looking for from this. And give the man some credit, too… while not groundbreaking, the establishing shots of Jones racing around the Hawaiian forests on his dirt bike were nice to look at as well.
Your enjoyment of this film will be entirely based on whether or not you choose to accept that, yes, this is a ridiculous concept. But hey, why not have fun with it for a couple hours? Certainly don’t believe everything you read online, one way or the other. This is one that needs the theatrical experience for you to really understand how much fun it is. The audience yelling “3-2-1-SNAKES!” won’t be the same on DVD, and you might feel silly if you’re the only one applauding The Line sitting in your living room. When you’re in that theater, though, you can tell that just about everyone is there for the same reason – if you decided to drop the money on a ticket to this one, or if you even considered it, chances are you’ll enjoy this immensely. If you dismissed it based on title, concept, or principle, then this one probably isn’t for you.But it was COMPLETELY for me.
link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=15043&reviewer=412
originally posted: 08/21/06 13:49:12